by Holly MacKenzie

Good Morning SLAMmers,

Maybe it’s the wild week we just had in the L, maybe it’s as a result of Chris Webber’s jersey retirement ceremony or something else entirely, but I’m feeling introspective today and I’m so in love with this game, I’m about to burst out of thankfulness for it.

My apologies for going AWOL last week. I can’t say I regret taking three days away from the Post Up, though. It was a wild week in sports. Kobe’s 61 at the Garden, Bron’s not-quite triple-double only a couple of days later, the Lakers in Toronto, the Lakers taking down the Celtics in what may be the game of the season so far, Bron’s outburst about Mo Williams being snubbed for the All-Star game again, Chris Webber’s jersey retiring ceremony and finally the Lakers going into Cleveland and getting the W yesterday thanks to LO showing his heart on the Cavs homefloor as the Lakers left their mark all over it.

I’m exhausted. Physically and emotionally. I’m looking forward to All-Star because I feel like I need some time to indulge in basketball that doesn’t mean anything for a weekend. Dunks and three-pointers, skills and G-E-I-C-O shots. I wouldn’t trade my basketball obsession for anything though. Going back to C-Webb’s ceremony on Friday night, it reminded me once again of how life is basketball and basketball truly is the microcosm of life.

While watching that ceremony I was a silly girl who couldn’t help but shed a few tears. Seeing Webb with his knees shaking, tears shining, sweatbeads forming, all because of the emotion he was feeling as a result of his career, life, friends, family and love, it made me so thankful. So very thankful for this game.

Do you ever stop and think about what the game has given you?

It’s given me understanding and patience. The understanding that work ethic will take you much further than just natural ability. That anyone can dream, but those who put their dreams in action and truly devote themselves wholeheartedly can accomplish so much more than what the non-believers or non-doers around them could ever imagine. Many times, more than what they themselves had allowed themselves to believe.

It’s taught me that bone-crushing defeat and gut-wrenching losses can either beat you down or strengthen your resolve and that’s up to you to decide. That for every loss, there is another opportunity to be better and succeed. That the key to the bigger picture isn’t just in grasping the chance and seizing the moment, but in opening your eyes and allowing yourself to see that a bigger picture does exist.

The game has brought me some of the greatest gifts of my life. It has taught me love and passion, compassion and heart. It has definitely given me some of the most important people I know and has brought people into my life who will remain there forever. I can’t even begin to imagine who I’d be without this game. It is me and I am it.

We are inextricably linked forever.

I think of a life without it and I come up empty. That life would not be mine. I’m sure many of you feel the same way. Through good times and bad, basketball is there. Happy and sad, whether watching at home, from in a sports bar or live at the game where you are sitting so close you could reach out and touch the players. Whether we are sitting in nosebleeds or hanging out in the locker room pre- and postgame, basketball links all of us and brings a sense of oneness and community.

That’s beauty.

That’s basketball.

And life.

When I woke up today I was damn thankful that I’ve got this game in my life and that no one can take it away. To pass along what a very dear friend of mine recently told me, “treat the game well and it will treat you well.”

I feel I’ve given the game my heart and in return, it has given me the world. Time after time after time.

Tell me, what has basketball given you?

Oops, one more thing the game has given: Jeff Van Gundy working Lakers/Cavs games, or, any game, really. That’s a gift in itself. The man is fantastic.

Okay, returning to our regularly scheduled recaps, let’s  run quickly through things from yesterday.

First, Los Angles Lakers.

FTH.

6-0 on this road trip, including wins over Boston and then the Cavs to close the trip out. Taking the season series over each of these opponents and stopping that 23-0 undefeated home record at Quicken Loans Arena. These guys are not playing around. LO with the game of his season and the aggressiveness that makes my heart so very proud of him .Bron with an awful game, and still only two rebounds away from another triple-double. He’s scary, that one. Kobe sick, IV during halftime, wrapped in towels while on the bench. The best part of this one, well there were two things that stuck out to me. The first, was that they did it without Kobe being Kobe. The second, they were able to rest both Kobe and LO for most of the fourth and their second unit, anchored by Pau Gasol, kept the lead rolling. Lakers 101 Cavs 91. It was a good day for Laker fans. It was also a great day for Lamar who finished with 28 and 17 on the afternoon.

The first game on ABC was something else, too. The Spurs are damn dangerous, especially with Roger Mason Jr. hitting big shots like he was born for it. This one between the Celtics and the Spurs went down to the final seconds and when it mattered, San Antonio was just a little more solid and took the game 105-99. Tim Duncan had a great game for the Spurs with 23 points and 13 rebounds while KG had 26 and 12 for the C’s. Mason had 11 points, none bigger than the Bigger than you can believe.three he had with 20.4 seconds left in the game to give the Spurs the lead for good.

Brandon Roy validated my extreme enjoyment of his game last night as he somehow managed to get to the hoop against the Knicks and hit a beauty layup at the Buzzer to give the Blazers a 109-108 victory. His 18th and 19th points of the night were among the prettiest I’ve seen this season and there is just this calmness about him that is perfection. Of course he gets the last shot. Of course he can be trusted to make the right decision. Of course. It comes naturally to him to lead.

Orlando did what they were supposed to do and defeated the Nets 101-84 as they get used to life without Jameer Nelson. Dwight Howard had 30 and 16 while Mickael Pietrus added 17. Devin Harris had 28 points and 12 assists for the Nets who were without Vince Carter who was resting a hyperextended right elbow.

Washington welcomed Caron Butler back into the lineup after he missed the last two with the flu and he  surprised the Pacers as they took down Indiana 119-117 behind Butler’s 35 points and a 34-point effort from Antawn Jamison. Danny Granger had 29 points for the Pacers while TJ Ford had 23 in the loss. With the game tied at 117, it was Butler’s jumper at the buzzer that gave the Wizards their 11th victory of the season.

The Thunder held on for the 116-113 victory against the Kings and Kevin Durant had another big game with 39 points. Beno Udrih had 29 points for the Kings while Kevin Martin and John Salmons each added 23, with Salmons adding 11 assists as well.

The Hornets held on for the 101-97 victory against the Timberwolves, but scary moment for the Wolves as Al Jefferson went down in the final minute of the game while trying to block a shot by Sean Marks. With all of the losses and struggles the Wolves have had this season, it just wouldn’t be fair for them to lose their best player. Thoughts and well wishes are being sent to Al Jefferson.

The Suns took down the Pistons 107-97 and Steve Nash had 21 assists and only 2 turnovers as they used a second quarter where they outscored Detroit 33-21 to get ahead and not look back. Shaquille O’Neal had 20 and 10 for the Suns in the victory as Richard Hamilton scored 27 off of the bench for the Pistons.

Golden State took down the Jazz 116-96 behind Corey Maggette’s 26 points and Stephen Jackson’s 20-10-8 night. Deron Williams had 31 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds for the Jazz in the loss.